Originally built up with Japanese and Russian capital during the early 20th century, Dalian now serves as a center of hi-tech manufacturing, as well as a major port of re-export.
As the "Gateway to the Northeast", the port city Dalian is a major "second-tier" city, a transportation hub in northeast China, and a center for food distribution. The city also serves as on of China's top cities for agriculture and fisheries; heavy, light and distribution industries, foreign investments, and information technology. This has enabled it to become one of the wealthiest and most prosperous cities in China.
The Chinese have been present in the Dalian region for 6000 years, and it has remained economically and militarily significant throughout Chinese history. During the Han Dynasty in 108 BC, Emperor Han Wudi established an important shipping line between the Liaodong Peninsula and Shandong Peninsula to the south.
Dalian was then named Sanshan in the period of Weijin (220-420), San Shanpu in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), Sanshan Seaport in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and Qing Niwakou in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Later in the 1880's, the Qing government constructed loading bridges and fortifications in the northern coast of the Dalian gulf, after which the city and surrounding areas grew rapidly.
The settlement then became occupied by the British in 1858, returned to the Chinese in the 1880s, and then occupied by Japan in 1895. In 1898, the Russian Empire leased the peninsula from the Qing Dynasty.
From1898 to 1955, both the Japanese and Russians have taken turns in ruling Dalian. Japans rule ended upon its unconditional surrender in 1945, at which time Dalian was passed to the Soviets who had taken possession of the city and remained until 1955.During this period the Soviets and Chinese Communists cooperated in the further development of the city, its industrial infrastructure, and especially the port. The city had been relatively undamaged during the war.
In the 20th century, Dalian was shaken by the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976, but after 1976, the region entered a new period of socialist modernization and construction. By 1984, Dalian was approved special status by the State Council to be opened-up. In 1985, the city was designated with a separate economic plan, enjoying a provincial level of decision-making authority.
The old name of Dalian was first used by an official in honor of Emperor Guangxu in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), which refers to the present Dalian Gulf.
Dalian is situated on the east coast of Eurasia and the southern tip of Liaodong peninsular in northeast China, with the Yellow Sea on the east and the Bohai Sea on the west. It faces the Shandong peninsular across the sea on the south and is backed up by the vast Northeast Plain on the north.
Locals call the city "Tiger", referring to the fact that a bird's eye view of the city gives the impression that the area resembles a Tiger's head. With a coastline of 1,906km, it governs the entire Liaodong Peninsula and about 260 surrounding islands and reefs. It is south-south-west of the Yalu River, and its harbor entrance forms a sub-Bay known as Dalian Bay.
Over the years, it is perhaps Dalian's strategic and well situated port which has played the most important role for the city. The terrain, high and broad on the north, low and narrow on the south, tilts to the Yellow Sea on the southeast and the Bohai Sea on the northwest from the center. Therefore, Dalian is the marine gateway of northeast China.
Dalian was originally an agricultural and fishing industry based area during the early 20th century, when it began to be populated by the farmers and fishermen of Shangdong, across the Yellow Sea.After this, the shipbuilding and locomotives industries were a thriving industry followed by Dalian becoming an important center of the heavy and light industries.
Dalian is the largest petroleum port in China, and also the 3rd largest port overall. Accordingly, Dalian is a major center for oil refineries, diesel engineering, and chemical production.
Subsequently Dalian emerged as a very important port for international trade. Also completed recently is a newer port on Dagushan Penninsula on the northern suburbs, specializing in inport/export of mining and oil products. Together with its Dalian Railroad Station, Dalian International Airport and two major express roads ro Shengyand-Changchun-Harbin in the north and to Dandong to the east, Dalian has become an important distribution center.
Dalian has been given many benefits by the Chinese government, including the title of "open-city" (1984), which allows it to receive considerable foreign investment. Since the 1990s, Dalian City has emphasized the development of the IT industry, especially in Dalian HiTech Zone and Dalian Software Park in the western suburbs near Dalian University of Technology.
Dalian is an ice-free port, which is a rarity for coastal cities at such latitudes and helps to explain why the port was so attractive to invaders in the past, as well as to contemporary investors in this cosmopolitan city. Dalian is less reliant on heavy industry than most Chinese cities, especially compared to northeastern China, and any heavy industry is mostly located in the development zones far outside the city center.
Though most of the tourist industry in the city is targeted at the domestic, rather than international, market, overseas tourists should still find plenty to do in the city, and the large number of foreign businesses in the city and foreign students and teachers at the city's many universities ensure that there's plenty of companies that cater to those who do not call China their native home. Dalian is a tourist, trading, and financial center, as well as an important port in northeastern Asia. It has thus gained a reputable name as the "Hong Kong of Northern China."
This harbour city boasts one of the cleanest environments, with an extremely close proximity to the sea allowing for warm winds from the pacific to blow, making Dalian refreshingly cool in summer and pleasantly warm in winter. Health-wise, Dalian's relatively low levels of pollution (comparable to London or Paris and better than Los Angeles, for example) mean health problems from bad air are less of an issue than in other Chinese cities.
The city has many parks, green hills, wide thorough fares and an army of street cleaners, making Dalian a more pleasant city to visit and live in than most Chinese cities of comparable size. Street crime is also relatively low in Dalian and muggings and assaults, for instance, are incredibly rare. However, there are pickpockets, so be cautious with your valuables especially in busy shopping areas or on crowded buses and trains.